This graphic keeps proving true. God/He/She/It...however you want to define life or the Universe, really does push us painfully forward sometimes. Before I moved to Washington, my life was a period of intense discomfort. I can say now with some confidence that those emotions were fundamental in propelling me forward. Had I been too comfortable where I was, had the feelings been satisfactory and my sense of self solid, I’d probably still be there. But none of that was the case.
It’s been easier and harder and easier and harder in the almost five years since I left the Midwest, but it's never just been easy. I can remember feeling completely lost at first. I didn’t know who I was for a while there. My sense of identity was bizarrely absent. The girl who had always been sure of what she wanted, what she loved and what her dreams were had completely drifted into no-man’s-land, and it didn’t matter how much I hated it or wanted out of the situation, I was stuck there until I wasn't. No family around, no friends yet, an island. Which is exactly what the Universe wanted me to be, I think. My backbone required honing, my Self (as always) required reflection. Even now, when I think I’m strong again, things keep happening to completely up my game in the area of sanity-testing situations. It makes me wonder what exactly the Universe wants from me anyway. It’s kind of mystifying and hair-pulling. I don’t get to see the big picture, so, faith in the portrait is all I’ve got.
This whole hard-stuff-is-necessary thing isn’t bunk. I am unequivocally a different human being than I was in my twenties. Present me knows things, man…and stuff. Emotions and losses that younger me -- who had already seen a lot – had yet to learn. A decade ago I was still incubating in my oven a much safer person. At 25, I was idealistic, relentlessly optimistic, less vulnerable, more certain, less broken open. I’d escaped the dysfunction of my youth and was comfortably cocooned (healing? hiding? both) from the next leg. But I guess that wasn’t satisfying for my adventurously masochistic inner consciousness. Twenty-five-year-old-Jen wasn’t as tough. She hadn’t been jaded. She believed in fairy tale endings and everyone’s good character. She hadn’t been introduced to the gut-wrenching, heart-stabbing face of death, the unnerving terror of utter self-reliance, or life's varied, soul-shrinking forms of rejection. And a hundred other things. I wasn’t at all prepared for the next decade. But the Universe continued (continues) to push me through my thirties with merciless abandon because it’s always time for an overhaul. Currently, I’m pending the release of Jen Version 10.0. I feel like I’m riiiight in the middle of another (massive) system rebuild. It’s a lot like Windows – my software won’t stop updating, and it’s gotten disorienting. Just when I think I’ve familiarized myself with the new interface, everything reboots and throws me into catastrophe. I realize how much self-work I have to do. More layers of learning, more unraveling of an old self. More unbecoming before becoming. It never really ends, but sometimes you reach an oasis when all the previous bits fall into order and you can rest on the beach and sip a drink for a while. I can promise you I’ll appreciate those rest stops a lot more in future.
Either I’m going to become a super star Dali Lama mastermind amazeballs Wonder Woman or a muttering, rocking homeless lady with a grocery cart full of soda cans. I’m gunning for the first one, but if anybody wants to start hoarding aluminum cans for me just in case….points for being proactive.
Ain’t life a sadistic little miracle of a bitch? Wonder what kinda shit she’ll throw at me the next decade. Maybe some of it’ll be awesome. Maybe I'll shock myself. Maybe I’ll find Candy Mountain and sell a million books and travel the world. Yeah. With my aluminum can collection. I think this could happen. I really do.